Have you seen a man who is falling asleep while sitting but tries to stay up? On this occasion usually the head goes to a direction but the person moves it back suddenly.

Do we have an expression for this?

  • @user8153 Huh? I don't see how this is proofreading. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 11:39

4 Answers 4


Often, I would say that my father is "dozing off" or "nodding off" while watching the television. This implies that he is in the act of falling to sleep while repeatedly awakening, instead of full-on sleeping (in which case, I would say he "dozed off" or "nodded off").


This is called nodding off precisely because when they fall asleep their heads move just like if they were nodding at someone.

nod 2. To let the head fall forward when sleepy.


For Getting Up, ("Get up" means rise from bed, usually for the day):

"I slept fitfully last night." "I must have been up a dozen times."

For dozing in a chair,

"He kept falling asleep and waking with a jerk." "He was fighting-off sleep"

  • thx, I edited that:)
    – Juya
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 17:16

Although slightly different, this can also be known as a hypnagogic jerk. This is a phenomenon where one falls asleep and has the feeling of falling, so he or she wakes suddenly with a jerk.

  • That's the true medical term for the jolt we feel but I think the OP might have a term in their own language for a syndrome of jerks occurring over an extended period. [This must be a sophisticated language!].From Wikipedia> the occurrence of hypnic jerks can become cyclical. .. If you lose sleep because you constantly jerk awake, you will become fatigued and may develop anxiety or worry about falling asleep. The more worried and tired you are, the more likely you are to jerk awake. The more you jerk awake, the more sleep you lose.
    – doc
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 23:13

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